How to create the perfect sales voicemail and get more callbacks

19 min read
Sales

How to leave the perfect sales voicemail

In an age where salespeople communicate effectively over emails and messages, leaving voicemails for prospects can seem like a challenging task. Since you only get a few return calls, are sales voicemails really worth your time? 

The answer is a resounding “yes.” It’s an important part of the sales process. While voicemails may have a lower response rate than other methods of communication, they're still an important part of client communication. That’s because voicemails are quality rich, even if not quantity rich. 

In other words, you may not get a lot of calls back, but the calls you receive will be from prospects with higher interest. That alone makes a good voicemail technique worthwhile.

Here are some tips from the voicemail pros to help you craft the voicemail strategy that gets the responses you’re looking for.

What to do before calling

The perfect sales voicemail requires preparation. Many sales teams find it helpful to prepare sales voicemail scripts or a template. Those can be helpful as long as your voicemail message sounds natural and not like you’re reading a sales pitch. But there are other things you can do ahead of time that will yield strong results for any prospect call.

Research your prospect

Any information you gather in researching a prospect is useful. The goal is to make a personal connection over voicemail, which isn't easy to do during a cold call. Small things you can drop into your message, like the prospect’s name, add a nice touch of personalization.

Practice your delivery

While you want to sound relaxed and friendly on the phone, you still must sound professional. This is a bit of a balancing act, and it doesn’t hurt to rehearse your delivery ahead of time.

Clear your throat

Nothing is worse than leaving a voicemail with a scratchy, coughing voice. Clear your throat and have a drink of water before you make your call.

Have important information handy

You’ll want to share certain information, like your phone number and company website. Nothing sounds more unprofessional than hesitating when delivering this info. If you have trouble remembering these things, keep a note in front of you, so you can say them easily when the time comes.

Keep voicemails between 20 and 30 seconds long

Your voicemails shouldn’t be too long, or you risk the prospect never listening to them. The sweet spot for voicemails is between 20 and 30 seconds. Anything longer is time-consuming, and anything shorter seems irrelevant. In either case, you risk the prospect deleting the voicemail without listening.

Mobile phones, and even some company VoIP systems, show the voicemail’s length and the number it came from, so the party you call knows how long your message is. Following the “20 to 30 seconds” guideline instills curiosity and makes the listener feel they aren't wasting time.

What to say when you leave a voicemail

Since you only have 20 to 30 seconds to work with, make the most of it. Here are some tips for what to say in your voicemail message.

Present relevant information upfront

How many times have you listened to a voicemail that started this way?

Hi John! This is Jane from Company XYZ. I hope you’re having a great day.

Your first instinct was probably to stop listening and delete the voicemail. That’s because you were able to identify the voicemail as a sales call right away. 

Instead, start your message with something relevant to the prospect, like their known pain points. For instance, if your company sells widgets that are currently in high demand, you might start your call this way:

Hi John! Have you noticed the widget shortage lately? I may be able to help…

Save the more sales-oriented contact information, like your company’s name and phone number, for the end of your message.

Don’t use standard closings

Make sure you don’t end your calls with standard salesperson closings. Phrases like “Give me a call back” or “If I don’t hear from you, I’ll check back in a week” tend to sound too formal. They reinforce the sales aspect of your call and cut down on the personal connection you’re trying to build with your prospect.

An excellent alternative closing is to ask a specific question that leaves the listener feeling like they need to give you an answer.

Take the opportunity to get specific

Email and voicemail are two different modes of contact, and you should tailor messages for each medium. If your voicemail message is just a rehash of your email communication, you’re limiting your chances of getting a callback.

Email and voicemails should be customized for their recipients, but voicemail presents the opportunity to be more specific. Even the most targeted emails tend to ask questions like “When would be a good time to talk?” or “We’d love your feedback on the whitepaper you downloaded.” These are questions that might apply to any prospect or lead.

Voicemails, on the other hand, are only meant for one recipient. They offer the opportunity to ask specific questions about the products and services the prospect already uses. It’s the opportunity to bring up mutual connections you share, like “I was talking to Dave from Company ABC and thought of you.”

Voicemails also allow you to ask questions of the recipient using their name and other personal touches that are more likely to get a response.

Find common ground

If you share common contacts with your prospect, that’s an excellent opportunity to connect over voicemail. Mentioning the person you both know is a great way to break the ice, so you can quickly move on to the main reason for your call.

If you know you share some other common ground with the prospect — perhaps you got their number from a referral, or your kids go to school together — use it to help build a connection between you and the prospect.

Give helpful context to your call

If you have any past relationship with the prospect or their company, mention it.

For instance, if you’re trying to re-engage a lead that went cold, take the opportunity to remind the prospect of any past talks. Reference when and where you talked before.

Along the same lines, mention it if you both belong to the same professional organization or if the prospect might remember your company from a presentation at a conference. Anything you can communicate to instill a sense of familiarity will enhance the connection you’re trying to make.

If you’ve already had a callback from this prospect, you’ve made a connection. Foster your prospect’s attention in your voicemail by asking what they’d like to talk about next. Some ways to work this into your message include:

  • “What should we cover the next time we talk?”

  • “Next time we talk, I’d like to tell you about...”

  • “Next time we talk, I’d like you to tell me about...”

These questions are designed to keep a conversation going and provide a reason for the prospect to call you back. 

Say you’ll follow up with an email

Follow-up emails give prospects an easy way to get back in touch with you. While members of your sales team may be accustomed to phone calls all day long, few other people are.

A brief follow-up email may be a preferred way to keep the conversation going. In any case, it doesn’t hurt to give a prospect some options. Just make sure the follow-up email references your voicemail message, so the prospect has some context and understands why you emailed them.

The follow-up email is also a great opportunity to include a call to action, such as visiting your website or social media platform.

Be clear about what to do next

After a prospect has listened to your voicemail, they should understand the steps you would like them to take. That could be calling you back, looking for your follow-up email, or scheduling a meeting.

Their expectations depend on the instructions you provide in the voicemail. Be as specific as possible. This includes letting them know your availability for a return call or follow-up meeting.

Avoid any directions that seem vague or open to interpretation, such as “I’ll wait to hear back from you” or “Get back to me when you can.”

Say your phone number at the end

Your phone number should be the very last thing you say in a voicemail. You’re more likely to get an immediate response when your number is the last thing the listener hears in your message. If time allows, say your number twice to help it stick in the listener’s mind.

Just make sure to say it slowly and clearly. Many companies now use automation in their voicemail transcription services. Speeding through your phone number increases the chances that the system will misinterpret it.

How to deliver your message effectively

The only thing more important than what you say is how you say it. Follow these guidelines to ensure your message is heard.

Use a normal tone of voice

Anyone listening to a voicemail message forms an image of the caller in their mind. For this reason, make sure you speak calmly and comfortably. This is important, even if you had sales training that advised you to sound excited or enthusiastic. Using those techniques leaves you with a high-pitched, unnatural voice.

Avoid using any style of artificial voice, and stick to your natural tone instead. Sound professional but not stern. Keep your pace steady, reduce your speaking pace, and speak more deliberately as you record your message. When done right, a deliberate tone intrigues the listener, increasing the chances they’ll finish listening to the voicemail.

If you sound rushed, the recipient may think they’re just another name on your list of people to call. This reduces the chances of a response because they imagine you leaving the same voicemail to countless people. The key here is to leave a professional voicemail to make the prospect feel special and show them you're actually concerned about their issues.

Avoid sounding desperate

An effective sales voicemail projects confidence and charm. The following phrases may get the prospect’s attention, but they also have the nasty side effect of making you sound desperate:

  • “Please call me back as soon as you get this!”

  • “I’m really looking forward to talking with you.”

  • “Please return my call at your earliest convenience.”

Instead, try these more natural-sounding phrases that tend to work better for sales professionals:

  • “Talk to you soon!”

  • “Thank you for your time.”

  • “Until next week…”

Avoid buzzwords and sales language

You can’t assume the person you’re calling is knowledgeable about your industry. Every field has its own jargon and buzzwords. If you use this type of language in a voicemail, and the listener is unfamiliar with those terms, you risk alienating the prospect.

That said, there’s some jargon that most people recognize –– sales language. This should also be avoided, as it’s likely to put them off. Sales jargon includes overused phrases like “satisfaction guaranteed” and “rock bottom prices.” Even if your company can back up those claims, uttering those words in a voicemail makes the listener feel like they’re getting a hard sales pitch. Those messages are likely to get deleted.

Slow down your cadence as you speak

Varying your cadence is an excellent way to grab the prospect’s attention. Speaking at the same relative speed throughout a voicemail may come across as monotonous. But slowing your cadence as you go has some benefits of its own.

If you start your voicemail at a regular cadence and then slow down the pace of your delivery, it makes you sound more confident and well-spoken. Following this technique catches the listener’s ear, making it more likely that they’re really hearing what you’re saying.

One thing you’ll always want to avoid is speaking too fast. You’ll sound rushed, almost as if you have many phone calls to make today and are just working your way down a long list. Take the time to ensure you speak in a confident, deliberate tone. Slow down your delivery for key points that you want to emphasize.

Don’t hang up without a voicemail

When your phone call doesn’t get an answer, there are a few reasons. Your prospect might not be at their desk, or they’re occupied with a visitor in their office. And yes, they could be screening your call. But no matter the reason, you still need to leave a message.

Remember, the prospect has caller ID and can see you called. If you don’t leave a message, their first thought will be that your call must not have been that important.

So always remember: If you’ve taken the time to call a prospect, you need to follow through by leaving a voicemail.

Leave your voicemails at the end of the day

According to the Serial Position Effect, people are most likely to remember the first and last items on a list. Therefore, prospects remember sales reps who called them early or late in the day rather than those who called mid-day. But we all know the hustle and bustle of work mornings, so it’s more likely that a voicemail will be ignored if sent in the morning.

The best timeframe for leaving a voicemail is at the end of the work day. Not only will a prospect have more time to listen to a message, but they may also even get back to you later or first thing the next day,

Split up your messages

Do you have more to say than can be expressed in 20 to 30 seconds? Split your message into two voicemails.

Splitting a message into two parts makes your attempt to reach the prospect more memorable. Two voicemails instead of one also have the added benefit of seeming more natural and spontaneous. 

Even if your message can be contained in a 30-second voicemail, you can try this technique to see if it piques a prospect’s interest.

Keep your emails and voicemails separate

Since sales reps use multiple communication forms with prospects, keeping them separate is ideal. This means you should refrain from repeating the questions or concerns you raise in an email. Otherwise, the point of the voicemail is redundant.

While both emails and voicemails should be personal or relevant to the prospect, voicemails should be super specific to the listener, so they’re compelled to hear more or reply.

Incentivize a return call

Remember that the number one goal of leaving a voicemail is to get a return phone call. It shouldn’t be to make a sale, and the recipient certainly shouldn’t feel that way.

To give a prospect incentive to call you back, focus on the value proposition your company can offer their organization. Mention any concrete and tangible benefits they can expect to receive if your two companies do business together.

At the same time, remember not to get bogged down in all the benefits your product or service offers. It’s still important to keep the call in the range of 20 to 30 seconds, so summarizing the positive impact your company can have is essential. In this case, a call script helps to make the most of your brief time on the phone.

Tips for closing out your voicemail

As mentioned earlier, there are several things to avoid when finishing your voicemail message. Saying things like, "Please call me when you get this," gives a desperate, needy vibe that you want to avoid. Also worth repeating is the importance of closing with your phone number

Closing out a voicemail is somewhat of an art in itself. Remember, the goal of the voicemail is to keep the conversation going, and returned calls are the metrics by which your success will be measured. Reinforcing any connection with the prospect is important, even if it’s just being in the same LinkedIn network. Any time you can make a voicemail sound like it’s from a friend rather than a member of the inside sales team, you’re laying the foundation for a return phone call.

Perfecting the art of effective sales voicemails can take a little time, but the best bet is to be engaging and relevant but not pushy. Here are a few more small tips that will increase your chances of converting prospects:

Make it personal

Use the word “personally” when you can. When you close a voicemail by saying, “I wanted to reach out to you personally,” it suggests you’re a decision-maker who took time out of your day to make this prospect call.

Share Your Mobile Number

Closing out a voicemail by saying, “Call me on my mobile,” adds trust and familiarity to the relationship you’re working to build with the prospect.

Ask for a call back

Phrasing a request for a callback as a question can make the prospect feel like they’re in charge. “Could you call me back at my number?” sounds like you’re asking for permission to continue the conversation, avoiding pushy sales tactics.

FiveCRM helps you convert the most prospects

It’s worth the time to craft the perfect sales voicemail. Converting a prospect into a customer when the initial outreach was by voicemail is a very satisfying feeling. But ultimately, phone calls are only part of an overall strategy to convert the most prospects. And in today’s digital age, you need good customer relationship management (CRM) tools to make that strategy work.

FiveCRM offers a comprehensive set of products that suit your specific strategy. From our CRM Software and Telemarketing Tools to our powerful Email Marketing Software and Lead Generation applications, FiveCRM has everything you need to take your customer relationships to the next level. Reach out on our  website to find out how.

Michael King says...

"I can’t think of a time where a client has requested something that we weren’t able to do with FiveCRM. Unlike most systems, it has a lot of flexibility."

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JANE HUSBANDS SAYS...

“Each client, and each of their campaigns, has its own unique specifications. We essentially needed to set up mini CRMs on one platform to meet those requirements.”

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